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Shihan Sugano Remembrance DAY 2: "Philosophy of Aikido is Love"

Updated: Mar 24

(These notes were taken at the 2007 Global Inner Aikido Seminar (GIAS) in Belgium. I accompanied Sugano Sensei as Otomo to Belgium for his Global Inner Aikido Seminar (GIAS) in 2007.)

BE: Why do you do Aikido Sensei?




SS: Doing Aikido too long! (Laughs) What else would I do? (Smiling) Do Aikido purely for fascination. Always learning. Always growing and seeing new things. Layer on layer. Like polishing a mirror or making sword.

When I start Aikido I was a boy, very fascinated technically with Aikido. Same as when study Judo and fascinated. Over time different. It takes time to understand.

Was one of the first Japanese teachers to teach overseas. (As such) I have responsibility to represent Aikido. Have serious responsibility to represent Aikido as O Sensei gave it. New generation not perhaps represent O Sensei. This is OK but means Aikido different and loses essence. It is important not just to use Aikido for person’s ideas. Must go on a search for meaning and application in philosophy and technique. Cannot go other way. Must let person come out through Aikido and not make Aikido through person. To teach must always be learning something new. Each class for me I am learning. Always fascinating. Cannot just show Aikido. Must see how student respond to Aikido and adjust. Must see response of student and this continues my fascination and learning.

Philosophy of Aikido is love, compassion, affection. Many process to achieve. Those concepts are universal and not just Japanese concept. Aikido has these as it philosophy, its center. To tell is OK but have to act. This is why we (Dojo’s that follow Sugano Sensei) support children. If you train you must give yourself. So it is with life. We must help others around. O Sensei was spiritual and for him Aikido was spiritual not martial. O Sensei pursue martial art before spiritual. If you study both there is contradiction. But you must study both. Martial and philosophy and in time there is understanding. If you go into detail on O Sensei’s idea of love, compassion is different than others. Idea of love very wide and was given for all creation.

O Sensei never said, “You must do this in order to find something” about his spirituality. O Sensei achieved these things through his religion, through connection to God. He never asked anyone to follow his religion so it is up to us to find his meaning. His relationship was personal to God and he not ask others for this but let them decide on their relationship, their path. That is very much Aikido way of philosophy. You give information and individual person decide to believe. It is an open door but the way is closed. Each must decide, each find. It is up to us to find way to achieve the philosophy. O Sensei followed his religion to his philosophy. He went to shrine and prayed to his God but he never said that we should do this.

In terms of technique is the same way. I give technique but you choose to follow or not. I give information. You decide and act. Way you train is a function of what you believe. This applies to the practice and to the philosophy. Practice of Aikido gives physical expertise. If you do not have study behind you, you cannot explain or act properly. This is perhaps some difference between my generation and now or non-Japanese. We practice from childhood. In Japan everything about studying for job. Martial understanding has been lost. There and here 99% of people come for recreation. If you want more you must study. In the olden days there was teacher student relationship of smaller scale. As more popular the teacher, student relationship was lost. Teacher, student relationship is more healthy. But this is difficult now. Organization and politics get in way of pure student, teacher relationship.”

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